Court suspends Ruto's move to appoint commission probing Shakahola deaths

The high court has suspended President William Ruto's decision to appoint a judicial inquiry that will probe Shakahola Forest deaths.

In his ruling, Justice Lawrence Mugambi says Azimio has raised serious issues that prompted the court to intervene.

A week ago, High Court temporarily barred the commission of inquiry into the Shakahola tragedy from commencing its sittings.

The ruling was to take effect for seven days pending the determination of the case filed by the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition.

Justice Mugambi had told the commission not to start their sittings until he gives fresh directions on Monday.

Through its official lawyer, Paul Mwangi, the Azimio coalition had opposed the formation of the commission on grounds it was not in accordance with the law.

The coalition argued that President William Ruto had defied the constitution and usurped the powers of other state organs.

The Raila-led coalition also raised an issue with the appointment of Lady Justice Jessie Lessit to head the commission. The coalition argued that it was likely to compromise the independence of the judge.

President William Ruto appointed Court of Appeal judge Jessie Lessit to head the commission in investigating the Shakahola deaths.

Lawyer Kioko Kilukumi was named the commission's lead counsel.

Justice Mary Muhanji, Bishop Catherine Mutua, Psychiatrist Frank Njenga, lawyer Eric Gumbo, Jonathan Lodompui, Dr Wanyama Musiambu, and Albert Musasia were appointed members to of the commission.

The Commission was tasked with, among other things, inquiring into the matter of the deaths, torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment of members and other persons linked to the Good News International Church in Kilifi County.

The commission will also look into the legal, administrative, security, and intelligence lapses that could have led to the Shakahola tragedy, where over 100 people have died so far after controversial preacher Makenzi instructed them to fast for long periods so they can "meet their maker.